Seen: On dvd on my tv, rented from netflix.
After watching Three the Hard Way and hearing about Jim Kelly's death the next day, I was definitely in the mood for more of his films, and Black Samurai sounded like it would hit the spot. Kelly stars as superspy Robert Sand, whose girlfriend (Essie Lin Chia) (the daughter of an ambassador to Hong Kong) is kidnapped by voodoo practitioners trying to expand their drug trade. Sand is assigned to infiltrate their criminal group so he can save the lady and take down their operation, moving between California and Hong Kong and showing off his rad martial arts moves. But never really doing anything samurai-related so I feel like the title is a bit misleading.
This movie is like a lot of forgettable action b-movies except it has a few things that elevate it for me. One: Jim Kelly. Two: a jet pack. Three: Shirtless Jim Kelly. The story is ridiculous and doesn't make any sense and honestly I didn't pay much attention to it. The dialogue is stilted and most of the characters are boring. BUT. The action sequences are rad, featuring Jim Kelly beating the shit out of almost everyone he meets, including several little people stuntmen, yelling his own sound effects and swishing his feet around like a boxer. He really does at one point don a jet pack and fly around, which was great, but probably my favorite part was when he sent man falling to his death by taking off his own shirt. That's the stuff dreams are made of, kids.
The villains are mostly forgettable, though I did enjoy Marilyn Joi as the sexy henchwoman Synne. I didn't get the magic "voodoo" stuff, it never really fit into the plot except that at the end a bunch of extras were thrown into generic African masks so they could dance around in some ritual that was never finished. Anyway. This movie is pretty ok but mostly only worth it for Jim Kelly because oh my god I am crushing so hard on him. You could easily skip around and just watch his fight scenes and walk away entertained, and wouldn't you know it the dvd's only special feature is the option to select only the fights! Thanks, technology!
Pair This Movie With: I'd go with Enter the Dragon. That movie rules.